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FAU engineering students tackle emerging issues of South Florida's construction industry

30 students attend regional competition in Tallahassee this week
Posted at 5:56 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 10:58:59-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A group of civil engineering students at Florida Atlantic University are in Tallahassee this week for the 2022 American Society of Civil Engineers Southeast Student Symposium.

Civil engineering students from 19 universities in Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico are putting their academic concepts to the ultimate test in a regional competition hosted by FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

FAU engineering students
Florida Atlantic University engineering students.

This year, 18 competitions are putting creativity and ingenuity to the test.

Thirty students from the Florida Atlantic University student chapter of ASCE are participating and sharpening their skills in construction as demand for housing in South Florida soars.

“I plan to go into structural engineering,” said senior Dominique Bethel.

Dominique Bethel
Dominique Bethel is a senior engineering student at Florida Atlantic University.

Bethel understands the integrity of homes and high rises is under scrutiny, as an eyewitness to the condominium collapse in Surfside last summer.

“It did dawn on me, especially after learning about some of those catastrophes,” she said. “I want to build the best structures and I want to build the best foundations possible, so that that never happens again.”

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FAU engineering students build mock homes.

“There's some speculation that impacts from sea level rise and salt getting into the foundation, may have accelerated corrosion,” said FAU college of engineering Associate Dean Frederick Bloetscher.

The challenge is South Florida’s high rises are getting older.

“Buildings aren't really designed to last forever,” said Bloetscher. “The idea is to teach these guys to think about the future and design for the future, not design for today.”

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FAU college of engineering Associate Dean Frederick Bloetsche.

These students are finding a solution, by creating cutting edge concrete with added fibers—a mixture that is more resilient than concrete of yesteryear.

An experiment showed that the new and improved concrete can withstand added pressure and that it’s also more resilient to rising sea levels.

FAU engineering student

“It's gone from regular cement, with just rocks to now being able to have certain admixtures, certain polymer, certain reinforcements,” said junior Emmanuel Francois.

The goal is to create solid foundations to address emerging issues of construction.

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Emmanuel Francois is a junior engineering student at Florida Atlantic University.

“Hopefully my skill set will help me and creating better foundations for buildings to last longer,” said Bethel.

In 2017, FAU hosted the ASCE student symposium on the Boca Raton campus, which included a balsa wood bridge competition, concrete canoe race, concrete Frisbee, and steel bridge competition.

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Florida Atlantic University engineering students.

They’re learning the latest technology and enhancements of reinforced concrete as the construction industry calls for more sustainable and resilient building products.

FAU civil engineering students have been participating in the conference and competition since 2005.

For more information about the FAU College of Engineering, click here.